A FRESH LOOK AT EGGS

eggdiagram

The information below is reposted from the only Chef I follow online. Chef Todd Mohr. You can check out Chef Mohr’s web site at;   http://www.webcookingclasses.com   (you may have to copy and paste this)   JW

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Exquisitely simple, yet enormously complex, the egg is one of nature’s marvels. The real facts about eggs have been scrambled in recent years, as they’ve gotten a bad rap for being high in cholesterol and fat. This singular view has ignored the enormous benefit of fresh eggs to the human body and the entire culinary world.

Nature designed the egg as the food source for developing chicks. Eggs, in particular chicken eggs, are also an excellent food for humans because of their high protein content, low cost and ready availability.

The most nutritious eggs ARE the freshest, from your local farm. Nutrition declines with age in an egg that must be shipped across the state or the country. Often, eggs must be additionally treated for such a long journey, even if that means exposing them to unnatural treatment until purchased by you.

One of the stunning facts about eggs comes from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, which has created a scale to measure the efficiency with which protein is used for growth in the human body. This is called a “Biological Value”.

Egg contains the highest quality food protein known. Based on essential amino acids it provides, egg protein is second only to mother’s milk for human nutrition. On a scale with 100 representing the top efficiency, eggs are rated at 93.7 percent in protein efficiency.

Comparing protein efficiency breaks down like this;   Eggs = 93.7%      Milk = 88%    Fish = 76%

Beef = 74%   Soy and Rice protein were even less efficiently absorbed and used by the body.  Only breast milk rated higher than the egg!

One of the many beneficial elements in an egg is called Biotin, one of the B vitamins which play an important role in cell metabolism and the utilization of fats, proteins and carbohydrates in the human body. Biotin is present in egg yolk. An egg white omelet may have less fat, certainly has no flavor, but also omits this important B vitamin.

While eggs are widely known as breakfast entrees, they also perform in many other ways for the knowledgeable cook. Their cooking properties are so varied, that they have been called “the cement that holds the castle of cuisine together”.

When you know the true facts about eggs, you’ll realize that there is barely an area of the kitchen, for the professional or the home cook that eggs don’t touch.

Eggs can:
Bind – meatloaves, Lasagna, croquettes
Leaven – baked goods, soufflés, and sponge cakes
Thicken – as in custards and sauces
Emulsify – mayonnaise, salad dressings, hollandaise sauce
Coat or Glaze – cookies or breads
Clarify soups – to make consommé
Inhibit crystallization – in boiled candies and frostings
Garnish – chopped egg whites and/or yolks give a finishing touch.

Eggs are composed of three basic parts, the shell, the yolk and albumen. The shell is made of calcium carbonate, and prevents microbes from entering as well as moisture from escaping. It’s the casing that protects the egg during handling and transport. The color of the egg shell is determined by the breed of the hen and has no bearing on its nutritional value or flavor.

The egg yolk is the yellow portion of the egg which takes up only 1/3 of the egg’s mass, but accounts for ¾ of all the calories, minerals, vitamins, and all of the fat. The yolk contains lecithin, which is an emulsifier that enables us to make mayonnaise, dressings, and hollandaise sauce.

Albumen is the clear portion of the egg, often referred to as the egg white, taking up 2/3 of the eggs mass but none of the fat and only 16 calories. Whipped egg whites can hold twice their volume in air, and create a protein web that helps leaven baked products. There’d be no Angel Food Cake without whipped egg whites, among many other baked goods.

What about that pesky strand that always seems to cling to the shell when you’re trying to crack them? This is called the “Chalazae Chord”. It’s the thick, twisted strands of egg white that anchor the yolk in place, They are NOT embryos nor imperfections as many people believe, but the more prominent the chalazae, the fresher the egg.

I’ve gathered three types of eggs for today’s Great Egg Test. If you missed the last blog post, there’s still an opportunity for you to see the Farm Eggs Challenge from the Downtown Baltimore Farmers Market. (see you tube video at; http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=eYz2z4UFbrw )

I’ve just returned from there after interviewing two egg providers. The first raises their hens in cages and feeds a corn and soybean meal. The second feeds a vegetarian diet and the chickens are raised in hen houses. Both treat their animals in the kindest, most humane fashion. Each explained how they give the birds twice the room required by law.

But, the egg test is not about passing judgment on the treatment of animals, that’s for another day. I’m concerned with the end-product. I want to know if a cage free egg is actually better than one from a hen that lives in a cage.

I’ll also bring in a third contestant, a plain white egg from the grocery store. I have no idea of its origin or how its mother lived. Since most people get their eggs from a display case and not the farmers market, I’ve chosen to bring in the mass-produced egg as a comparison.

The first event in my Egg-lympics is the spread test. After cracking each raw egg onto a plain white plate, I notice how it fills the surface. The more an egg spreads on the plate, the less fresh it is.

A truly fresh egg is measured by how high the yolk sits atop the white. Instantly, I notice a difference between both farmers market eggs and the grocery store one. The mass-produced egg spills like water onto the plate and rolls around as I pick it up to view. The yolk is spread almost flat and has a dull yellow color.

The egg that came from a caged hen being fed corn and soybean gave a much better display. The bright yellow yolk displayed a high arched dome sitting on the jiggly albumen. The egg still spread to the edges of the plate, but did not slide around like it was in water. It’s clearly a fresher egg than the grocery store version.

The third contestant is the cage-free bird that eats a vegetarian diet. This egg has the darkest yolk, more orange than yellow. The yolk perches on the egg white like it’s sitting on a throne, up straight and proud. It does spread more than the caged egg, but the yolk is stronger.

Event number two in this egg test is the frying test. As I put each egg into its own omelet pan, I notice immediate differences. The grocery store egg flattens as it cooks and the yolk becomes a cloudy yellow. The cage-free egg cooks nicely, the yellow yolk sinking a bit into the white that quickly dries out.

The winner of the cook test is the cage-free egg. Once cracked into the pan, it retains its original position, not spreading, now weeping. It looks like a picture of an egg in a magazine, with three tiers leading to the orange yolk. The white stays moist and shiny. It clearly looks the best cooked.

However, it’s really the flavor test that I’m most interest in and the grocery store egg is again last in the race. It tastes like water. The yolk is mealy and flavorless. While egg whites are not usually known for their flavor anyway, this one has LESS flavor than water.

There’s a clear difference in flavor between the mass-produced egg and both eggs from the farmers market. The local eggs both have a much more pronounced flavor. There’s an “earthy-ness” to both eggs that the factory egg just can’t match.

From this point, it’s really just a matter of your personal preference. For my palate, the cage-free vegetarian-fed egg had a creamier yolk, a moister white, and a more complex flavor that gave me a sense of the farm they were raised on. The eggs from caged hens was excellent also, just not as much complexity of flavor to my tastes.

So, who wins the Great Egg Test? You do!  Start buying local eggs from your farmers market. It will be your gateway into seeking out wholesome, fresh ingredients that benefit your community, your farmer, your earth, and your body as well. Buy local, buy fresh and you’ll always have the best ingredients.

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I hope this post clarifies some of the information about the egg for you. Sadly, there is a lot of misinformation being presented as facts  out there by anti meat/egg groups just as there is a lot of purposeful misinformation about sugar, gluten and other evil ‘poster child’ of the day food.  Please, do your homework before deciding how and what you should eat.

Personally, I am not much a meat eater simply because I find it hard to eat an animal that is a social creature. (cares for their young, plays, teaches and has has social interaction with others within its species). I eat this way because for the present I have that choice. But, if it were a choice between survival and dying, no cow would be safe near me.

Having said that, I do eat fish, eat eggs, butter, milk and cream in cooking. My decision is personal, just as yours should be.  JW

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8 comments on “A FRESH LOOK AT EGGS

  1. I pay quite a bit more to have my farm fresh eggs, but I still think they are a value. I do love eggs in almost any form, and had no idea they rated so high on the protein efficiency index. That’s great information to have. This was really interesting!

  2. redjim99 says:

    Fried egg sandwich, can’t beat it – sorry 😦

    Jim

  3. tbnranch says:

    Like they say… the incredible edible egg!

  4. […] Exquisitely simple, yet enormously complex, the egg is one of nature’s marvels. The real facts about eggs have been scrambled in recent years, as they’ve gotten a bad rap for being high in cholesterol and fat. This singular view has ignored the enormous benefit of fresh eggs to the human body and the entire culinary world.  Continue Reading […]

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